Glass Ceiling

Generations from now, (but hopefully sooner,) people may not experience, let alone remember the term glass ceiling.

When they don’t know the term, they may not understand the value of the effort, pain, and the frustration that women experienced as they entered the workforce in huge numbers in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Thankfully, they were determined and we need to remember their efforts and appreciate what they lived through so that we could have a better life.

The term, apparently, was coined in the mid 1980s, right about the time when I was being told, “You can and will become an engineer, or you can be a doctor if you prefer, (but you can’t be a nurse.)

I was fully aware of the term, even though I never felt that I had experienced “it” in my stint in corporate America. Oddly enough, it did catch up with me, when I moved to a smaller (ok small) business, where the owners felt that a man would be better in the role. “Huh?” (Yup, two women told me this…)

I seriously couldn’t believe what they were saying… I mean, it was the year 2006! Twenty years earlier, no one was saying to me “be a teacher or become a secretary, learn short hand” and beef up that pinky finger to fully imprint the question mark character and letter z on a typewriter. Ok, sure, I actually had a typewriter growing up, I used it to type letters to family – and stories.  I did, actually take (gasp) typing class, only because they wouldn’t let me take computer science. That lasted about 2 days when they realized there was room in the computer class – I was the only freshman in the class. I remember when my Algebra teacher walked into typing with my course change paperwork. She taught comp sci, too. That was a great day.  Within 2 years, I think, that typing class was not chosen in the curriculum and wasn’t even offered by the time I graduated good ole’ BHS. It certainly wouldn’t be offered today.

I have to thank her (Mrs C.) again, along with my mom (the “not a nurse, but a doctor” mantra drilled into my head at a very young age), my grandmother (you are going to be an engineer…), my Sr Category Manager (supervisor and mentor) in my c-store marketing role who admitted that her nickname at her first company was “token”, and of course, the VP of Marketing who said “you want more, right?” She also helped me move onto the role that got me to where I am today.

We all want more and we have to thank those women who didn’t settle, who knocked every day on that glass ceiling until they got farther than other women had ever gotten before. I thank them for the fact that I stand on their shoulders (shoulder padded of course!) Hopefully I am taking the right steps, based on their strength, their shared power, to help the next generations of women (and men) of all backgrounds get where they want to go. Upwards, outwards and sideways – what ever way you want…it is only up to the limits you set on yourself.

~ Dawn aka Hat Girl (no, it isn’t Hat Woman, that sounds weird)

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